$1.1M grant a big boost for new fire station | TheUnion.com

$1.1M grant a big boost for new fire station

After 13 years of planning and preparing, scrimping and saving, the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department got some very welcome news this week: It has been allocated a grant of more than $1.1 million to assist in the construction of a new fire station.

“It’s very exciting news,” said Fire Chief Don Gannon.

The fire department applied for the federal grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency back in January, and received letters of support from many local and state officials, including Rep. Tom McClintock.

McClintock’s letter noted that Rough and Ready Fire Protection District is one of the few remaining all-volunteer fire departments in western Nevada County, with about 20 volunteers who responded to 180 calls in 2008.

The letter also noted the current fire station is inadequate to meet the needs of the community. It does not have sprinkler or alarm systems, adequate water pressure, safe wiring or enough space to house equipment and firefighters.

“A new station would cut down response time, provide basic shelter amenities during community emergencies and provide living quarters and bathrooms for the firefighters,” the letter read.

“It was a very competitive grant process,” said Assistant Fire Chief Bob Vaughan. “There were more than 6,000 applications and they only awarded 100 grants nationwide.”

The grant is part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which had set aside $210 million for constructing “shovel-ready” fire stations.

“As part of the grant, we had to justify our need,” Vaughan said. “We have a lot of issues with the current station. It’s 40 years old, an old tin barn that has been added on to many times.”

The current station’s location a mile down Rough and Ready Road was also used during the grant process, since a more central location would help cut down on response time.

“It would be cost-prohibitive to fix (the old station), to bring it up to current standards,” Vaughan said.

Rough and Ready also had to meet other criteria, including the number of years the department has been working on the project and the amount of matching funds that would be available.

Vaughan said the department has about a $1 million set aside, most of which has come from local donations.

“We’ve been working on it and saving money for a long time,” he said.

A site across from the Rough and Ready Market on Rough and Ready Highway has been purchased and building plans and many permits already are in place, Vaughan said.

The new fire station will cost about $2.2 million and the department will have to borrow some money, he added.

“We hope to break ground in about a month,” Vaughan said, with a completion date in about a year.

“Since it’s a federal grant, we have to make it very energy-efficient,” he added. “It will be a LEED-certified building and there’s only one other commercial LEED-certified building in the county.”

Vaughan said letters of support came not just from McClintock, but also from Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Assemblyman Dan Logue, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, and the Nevada County Economic Resource Council.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

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